I wasn't always afraid to be alone. As an only child, I could play by myself happily for hours. I made up elaborate games, enlisted my stuffed animals and dolls as characters that were as real to me as anything, and got lost in my books.
But at some point, maybe when hormones and peer pressure reached a fever pitch in my life, I began to believe I needed the approval of others more than I needed the quiet calm I felt in solitude. I always had a boyfriend. A best friend. A party to organize. A group project to complete. I gathered others around me as armor; safety in numbers was my survival strategy. I forgot how to be alone and eventually became afraid of it.
I chose a career path in one of the most social professions of all. I filled my professional and social calendar to the brim, until there was never a quiet moment left in my life except when I was sleeping—and I did very little of that.
To those who knew me, I was the ultimate extrovert. The party planner. The event organizer. The publicist who was constantly working on the next big thing. And then I met my match, my highly extroverted husband, and we built a busy life together. Throughout the Three Ms—Marriage, Mortgage, and Motherhood—I kept up my extrovert ways.
But somewhere in between the dinner parties, work conferences, and group camping trips, there was a little girl who longed to go into her room and curl up with a good book. She stole moments of quiet in the bathroom, the car, or a hotel room on a business trip. And she secretly longed for more of those moments.
Instead of being afraid to be alone, I became scared that's how I liked to be.
I pushed my inner calling for quiet away while I prepared for another themed birthday bash. I kept up with the whirlwind I'd created until it all came crashing down. My business. My health. My state of mind. And that's when I knew something had to change.
At this critical juncture in my life, driven into bed by despair, I decided the little girl inside was trying to tell me something important. I wasn't an extrovert, and I couldn't pretend any longer. I was exhausted.